Over the last few Plenary meetings, group members have been discussing takeaways from chapters in The Cohousing Handbook, written by Kelly ScottHanson and Chris ScottHanson. At out next meeting, we will discuss the chapter on the development process.
This chapter is very timely for us since we are currently searching for a development partner. Over the summer we reviewed various development strategies and decided to seek a developer with whom we would develop a mutual (or “joint”) partnership. This will require some work on our part to find the right match since most developers sell their product as “market housing” that targets buyers looking more for privacy and personal comfort. Although cohousing communities enjoy these features, they place emphasis on sharing and closeness through aspects like interior sidewalks, peripheral parking, and a multi-use common house.
As described in the book, it gets down to financial risk and control. In a joint-partnership, the developer assumes some of the risk and retains some of the control. However, on the positive side, the group is not expected to come up with all of the cash required, will share the risk and, “most importantly, will have a partner who knows what he or she is doing” as we navigate through the technicalities of housing development.
The book talks about other options, including working with a government housing agency. This is a possibility that we have also considered; however, I wonder if this is the best route for us since it “requires extreme patience and an abundance of time.” If we want to stick with our goal to have the community built out in 2017, this may not be the best option for us.
I am looking forward to hearing what takeaways the Richmond Cohousing members will bring to the meeting this week.
Jane has first-hand experience in searching for local developers as an integral member of our Development subcommittee. We look forward to utilizing her Master Gardener talents in our shared garden come 2017!